Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Shh! My Kids Don't Know I'm Fat

So I read an article yesterday that one of my friends posted.

It was a letter a lady wrote to her mom. It talked about how when she was really young, she remembers her mom wearing a beautiful, classy, white bathing suit at the lake. She used to pull that suit out of her mom's drawer and dream about when she would be big enough to be as beautiful and lovely as her mom.

Then her view of her mom and herself changed forever.

She told her mom how beautiful she was one day, and her mom responded with something like "no I'm not, dear. I'm fat, and ugly, and horrible. I always have been fat - even as a child."

What the author said she learned from this is that 1. Her mom was fat, because moms don't lie 2. Fat is ugly and horrible 3. When she grows up she is going to be like her mom, therefore she was going to be ugly and horrible too.

She has spent a good chunk of her life living and believing this lie from her mom. Struggling with her weight, having a nasty self image, etc, etc.

She went on to say how it wasn't her mom's fault she had this view of herself and passed it down to her. Her grandmother was the same way, only worse. When her dad left her mom, her grandma told her mom "I can't understand why he left - you always wear your lipstick and you are only just a little overweight" if that was the only reason a man would leave. Now that she has a beautiful daughter of her own, though, she's dealing with all of this and wants to break the heritage of self-deprecation and poor self image.

Anyway, it was a beautifully written piece, and it really got me thinking.

I have had this view for awhile now, but I've never put it into words before. So, here goes.

I, too, had a mom who was constantly worried about her weight. Unlike the mom in the story above, she never said that she was "fat, ugly, and horrible" that I can remember, but she did make enough comments about dieting, her weight, exercise, the size of her clothes, etc, that I caught on really early on that weight and size mattered. There was a lot of yo-yo dieting and cycles of exercise, but nothing ever stuck.

It didn't help that my name rhymes with "heavy", and as luck would have it, I have always been overweight. You know how cruel kids can be. It has actually been pretty recently that I can even tell people what kids used to call me without choking up.

Yes.... "Heavy-Evie" was what my schoolmates used to call me. Even now it's really strange seeing that hurtful moniker in print. Anyway, pair that with my weight-conscious-on-the-brink-of-obsessed family (we have all been overweight at one time or another except for one of my brothers, and we didn't necessarily have the best self images growing up - no matter how much we were loved on by our parents and family) and I have, for most of my life had a very unhealthy view of myself and a terrible self image.

One thing I decided, though - soon after our daughter was born - is that I am going to do my very very best
to not pass that negative self image down to our kids. I have always been SUPER conscious of what I say around them and to them. I don't think I've ever indicated that I'm fat to them or even around them - no matter what I really think of myself. At least I hope I haven't.

It's a constant personal battle.

I very recently (like within the last 6 months or so) slowly - after years of considering the concept - came to the realization that I honestly don't care how much I weigh. I also don't care what size I wear. What I do care about is feeling good so I can play with the kids. I care that I'm around to feel good enough to play with my grandkids someday. I care that I pass down not just healthy eating habits and healthy lifestyle, but a healthy SELF IMAGE.

When we talk about food, we talk about what's healthy - just because something isn't healthy doesn't mean we don't eat it - we just don't eat it as often or have as much. And I don't mean the mainstream "low fat equals healthy" - I'm talking about whole, real food nutrition - but that's a totally different post ;). We don't talk about what we can or can't eat because of some fad diet, nor do we talk about trying to lose a bunch of weight, or that I'm trying to get into a smaller size of clothes, or anything else related to those things. I also don't want to give the impression that eating healthy is "depriving" us of something better - that we are "giving up" everything else. That's not it at all. We are eating healthier because it makes us feel better. That's it and that's all. And no - we have not "arrived" in the health department. That, too, is an every day decision, and though it's getting easier as time goes by, we do still eat things that aren't super healthy. But you know what? I'm NOT beating myself up about that anymore!

I feel like now that I have a healthier self image, everything else is just taking care of itself.

I even feel decent without makeup.


Ok....maybe not.....but I'm not going to avoid a picture with the kids because I don't look my best. I want them to remember me the way I am - on days where I'm in my jammies until noon with uncombed hair and no makeup as well as the days I'm up and ready to go early with fixed hair and "my face on".

And I'm making this pledge publicly right now. For my kids and their kids and their kids. I will NEVER say I'm fat, ugly, or horrible, and I will accept their compliments when they tell me I'm beautiful. Because I would bet a million bucks that I'm beautiful to my mom and always have been - no matter how she used to view herself. I can also guarantee that my children will always be beautiful to me, and I want them to know it and believe it - even if they end up looking just like me.

Also - Mom, if you're reading this, know how beautiful you are - I feel SO blessed to look so much like you!

In health and beauty

By the way - No matter what you believe about yourself or what your mom used to believe about herself, YOU are beautiful too - not just when you are at a certain weight, clothes size, or when you're hair is done. You are beautiful ALWAYS!


Keely Rees said...

Beautiful story and such and important topic as parents...I talk a lot about this in my women's health classes and we declare a 'no fat talk' classrroom and semester is pretty powerful. Great resources out there:

Anonymous said...

Years ago my three year old cuddled up to me and sighed... " When I grown up I want to be just like you. With NO BONES!!" That made me realize how she saw me and helped me to be ok being me.